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Why Black Hat From Priest Looks So Familiar

Lately, streaming viewers have been discovering the pleasures of Priest, the 2011 action-horror flick based on the Korean comic book series of the same name by Hyung Min-woo. The film stars the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Paul Bettany as the title character, who resides in an alternate reality in which humans and vampires have been engaged in a bloody war for centuries. He's among an elite class of warrior priests whose special abilities make them uniquely suited for dispatching bloodsuckers, and although the last great Vampire War is long over as the film opens, Priest is forced back into action when his niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by a gang of the undead.

The movie sports a solid supporting cast that includes the likes of Designated Survivor's Maggie Q, Dangerous Lies' Cam GigandetDeadwood's Brad Dourif, and the great veteran stage and screen actor Christopher Plummer. But there's one face among that cast who may be naggingly familiar: that of Black Hat, the vampiric Big Bad with a mysterious past. The actor who portrays him is Karl Urban, and if you somehow failed to catch all of the hugely popular pictures he's appeared in over his long career, then you probably recognize him from one of a couple recent forays into television. Here's why Black Hat from Priest looks so familiar.

Karl Urban was a supporting player in some very popular films

Urban has been acting since the early '90s, and as a New Zealander, he built his resume with a slew of bit parts in TV series that barely registered a blip on anyone's radar in the United States. One of these, though, would turn out to be significant: during a six-episode stretch on the police procedural Shark in the Park in 1991, he became acquainted with one of the show's writers, Fran Walsh. She would go on to become the writing partner of Peter Jackson — who would eventually cast Urban in the part of Eomer in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in 2002.

Urban also appeared in the cult classic horror flick Ghost Ship that same year, and reprised his Lord of the Rings role in The Return of the King in 2003. Throughout the rest of that decade, he would take on a slew of popular genre flicks, appearing as Vakko in 2004's sci-fi actioner The Chronicles of Riddick, as Kirill in the spy thriller The Bourne Supremacy the same year, as John Grimm in the 2005 video game adaptation Doom, and as Ghost in the 2007 historical action drama Pathfinder. In 2009, he landed his most high-profile role to date — in a reboot of an iconic property that was way better than it had any right to be, thanks in large part to its spot-on casting.

Karl Urban plays "Bones" McCoy in the reboot Star Trek series

This was in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, which takes place in an alternate timeline (dubbed the "Kelvin timeline") from all of the other Trek TV series and films, and which featured reimagined versions of the iconic characters from the original series. The flick stars Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu — and Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, a role he was born to play.

Star Trek was a hit, reinvigorating the franchise's big-screen fortunes and yielding two sequels, 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness and 2016's Star Trek Beyond. Urban reprised his role in both films, and while the future of the franchise is a bit up in the air after the failure of Beyond to live up to box office expectations, Urban is among those optimistic that the amazing cast will get to saddle up for at least one more go-round. Speaking with JoBlo in 2018, the actor said, "I have such a blast working on those Star Trek movies. You know, that cast, we're like family at this point. I'm pretty confident within, hopefully the next year, that we'll be back on the set." Well, that date has been missed — but hope springs eternal.

Karl Urban went on to more small parts in big movies — and a lead role in a minor classic

Aside from his work in the Star Trek series, Urban kept his mug in front of film fans with more appearances in genre films over the last decade. He reprised his role as Vakko in the 2013 sequel Riddick, appeared in the underrated 2014 thriller The Loft, popped up in a major role in Disney's excellent live-action adaptation Pete's Dragon, and even made an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Skurge in 2017's wildly entertaining threequel Thor: Ragnarok.

A certain subset of moviegoers, though, will likely recognize Urban's face (or at least the lower half of it) from his starring role in one of the most criminally underseen films of the last ten years: 2012's Dredd, an adaptation of the iconic British comic strip and comic book character of the same name. In case you're unfamiliar, the story takes place in the ginormous, dystopian metropolis Mega-City One, in which all law enforcement officers are "Judges" — as well as juries, and executioners. Urban stars as Judge Dredd, who — along with his green rookie partner, of course — is tasked with bringing order to a violent, lawless high-rise apartment building ruled over by a ruthless drug lord. The flick was scripted by Alex Garland, who would go on to score an Oscar nomination for Ex Machina, following that up with Annihilation and the hit Hulu series Devs.

Dredd was not a box office hit, but it did gangbusters on home video, becoming a cult hit and drawing praise for Urban's portrayal of the beloved character (and the less said about the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version, the better). Urban has long maintained his willingness to reprise the role in a sequel, and fans have been clamoring for one for eight years — but so far, there are no plans to oblige them.

You've probably seen Karl Urban hanging out with The Boys

If none of this is ringing any bells, then we're pretty sure we know exactly where you've seen Urban's face lately: on The Boys, the hit Amazon superhero satire based on the comic book series of the same name. Urban stars as Billy Butcher, the leader of the Boys, a group of superheroes whose severe personality flaws and dysfunctional relationships with each other often spell trouble for the very public they're supposed to be protecting. Butcher has no powers himself, and in fact he pretty much hates anyone who does — he even believes the face of the team, Homelander, to be responsible for his wife's mysterious disappearance. But he holds the team together in opposition to the Seven, a team of government-sponsored heroes who are even more arrogant and corrupt — even if he has to cross every line in the book to do it (like, say, wielding a superpowered baby as a weapon).

The Boys is profane, vulgar, unbelievably violent... and, well, hilarious. We'll be seeing more of Urban's Butcher and his gang of morally questionable "heroes" soon; Amazon renewed the series for a second season before the first even premiered. In the meantime, you can catch more of Urban's work on the big screen. He'll be appearing in the noirish crime drama Cold Providence opposite Malin Akerman next year.